Sump pumps. They are seldom noticed until something goes wrong. A non-functioning sump pump could mean a lot of damage if water enters your basement and floods it.
Water can enter the basement from a variety of sources. A spring melt, while the ground is still frozen, means that the water has nowhere to go. Also, if there are any foundation cracks or the caulking is old around basement windows, it’s a perfect entry point for water.
Heavy rainfall could also result in water entering the home. In addition, if your home is located in a low-lying area or if the property is susceptible to flooding, a sump pump is necessary to remove water.
Sump pumps are not infallible. They could fail because of age, depending on how often it is used.
They can also fail because of issues with the float. The float moves up and down depending on how much water enters the house. As the water level rises, the float signals the pump to turn on and begin pumping it out of the basement or crawl space. If the float isn’t working properly, the pump won’t turn on, allowing flooding to occur.
Alternatively, the pump can be working perfectly until the power goes out. As they use electricity, it’s best to install an alarm with a battery backup. It functions as an early warning system.
However, alarms are not necessarily a part of or included with every sump pump. It is considered to be an added feature but well worth having it installed as an indicator that something is amiss with your sump pump.
If the pump cannot remove water from the basement, it could be the result of a blocked discharge pipe or perhaps the pipe’s interior diameter is too small for the job. Another reason might be a frozen pipe. It can be a common problem during the winter months with extended freezing temperatures. If the pipe is buried underground it’s more difficult to thaw than if it is above ground.
In addition, if the pipe is blocked, the pump may burn out trying to remove water that has nowhere to go.
A little prevention can go a long way. Try and do a test run in the spring and fall to make sure everything is working properly. That way, there will be no surprises.
If your sump pump is older, check to see if it has an overheating switch. If not, it could be a fire hazard. The City of Barrie reports that fire crews frequently respond to potentially serious incidents of sump pumps overheating in residential homes.
Newer pumps, depending on the make and model, have a switch that will turn off the pump before it overheats. The city suggests replacing an older pump if it doesn’t have this switch.
In other electrical prevention tips, check that the breaker is tripped when the pump is plugged into its own circuit. The breaker will cut the power when the pump motor shorts out which will prevent a fire from starting.
Sometimes silt and sand will collect at the bottom of the sump pump pit. It needs to be removed as it will damage the pump and shorten its life.
Homeowners using municipal water may opt to install ‘Home Guard or Main Line Systems” which works as a backup and filter. It introduces water to get rid of the water and pumps it back out again.
Also, every sump pump should have a check valve so that water cannot cycle back into the pit where the pump is located.
Early warning signs that your pump may not be working properly range from loud noises to frequently turning on and off.
If replacing a sump pump consider purchasing a submersible pump as a safer alternative to a stem or column style pump and have it professionally installed. Call Plumbtech Plumbing Inc. at 705-722-7209. Estimates are free.
For more on sump pumps, see https://plumbtechplumbing.com/pump-malfunction/